Robotics an innovative sport for Hawaii’s youth
Many residents are familiar with our administration's work to promote student robotics in Hawaii, especially leading up to the inaugural 2008 NASA/BAE Systems FIRST in Hawaii Regional Robotics Competition at the Stan Sheriff Center on March 27-29.
But our support is about more than just the value of robotics. It's about equipping our young people with important teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and engaging them in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
These abilities and aptitudes are the key ingredients to developing a 21st-century workforce, and will enable our young people to succeed in an increasingly competitive and connected world, as well as propel our state to further economic success.
To successfully transform Hawaii's economy from one based on an over-reliance on land development to one based on developing the innovative capacity of our residents, we need homegrown talent to fill the high-paying jobs of a global economy.
In preparing for the future, we can look to our past for a roadmap that draws upon our capacity to innovate while also preserving our unique natural resources and quality of life.
Hawaii's earliest inhabitants were among the most innovative in the world. Their navigation of the Pacific, utilization and deference to natural resources as tools of sustainable living, and their ability to find new ways of farming and fishing are known the world over.
I believe our residents can rise again to meet the challenges of the future, and do so with the aloha spirit and gracious professionalism exhibited by our FIRST in Hawaii robotics students.
In one year, we increased the number of high school robotics teams in our state from four to 25, including nine teams from the neighbor islands; 95 Hawaii schools now have robotics programs. More than 450 Hawaii students will compete this week at the Stan Sheriff Center.
And the robotics world is taking notice. This year's inaugural NASA/BAE Systems FIRST in Hawaii competition is drawing one of the strongest fields of robotics teams in the world. Several of the 12 mainland teams have won other events this spring. Four Hawaii teams already have secured spots for the FIRST Championships next month in Atlanta, often called the "Super Bowl of Smarts."
It has been said that change doesn't happen from the top down -- it happens from the bottom up.
We're seeing that change take place through the unfiltered lenses of our young people, and it's up to us to do all we can to support their drive for a better future.
Hawaii's regional robotics competition is free to the public and I encourage you and your families to attend and show your support for our students and the future of our state.
James R. "Duke" Aiona Jr. is Hawaii's lieutenant governor.